A year after his shock resignation, Pope Emeritus Benedict has no regrets and believes history will vindicate his tumultuous and much-criticised papacy, the man closest to him told Reuters in a rare interview.
Ganswein, who now works for the former pope as well as being the head of
Pope Francis's household, shed new light on how Benedict spends his
days, his health, his feelings about his momentous decision and the
relationship between the two popes.
Benedict is at peace with himself and I think he is even at peace with
the Lord," said Ganswein, whose twin roles bring him into contact with
the current and former pope daily.
announced his decision to resign, the first pope to do so in 600 years,
on February 11, 2013, citing the physical and psychological strains of
the papacy. He stepped down on February 28 and Francis was elected on
March 13 as the first non-European pope in 1,300 years.
eight-year papacy was marked by mishaps and missteps, often blamed on a
dysfunctional Vatican bureaucracy, and intrigue befitting a Renaissance
The "Vatileaks" scandal, in which Benedict's butler was arrested
for leaking the pope's private papers to the media, alleged corruption
in the Holy See, something the Vatican denied.
rigorous theologian-teacher and reluctant chief executive, he was often
vilified by some in the media for a style seen as distant and aloof.
who has been at Benedict's side since before his election in 2005, said
the former pope had no regrets about leaving office and held no
resentment against his critics who the Vatican says misunderstood him.
It's clear that humanly speaking, many times, it is painful to see that
what is written about someone does not correspond concretely to what
was done. But the measure of one's work, of one's way of doing things,
is not what the mass media write but what is just before God and before
THE JUDGEMENT OF HISTORY
am certain, indeed convinced, that history will offer a judgment that
will be different than what one often read in the last years of his
pontificate," Ganswein said in a telephone interview.
who now resides in a former convent in the Vatican gardens, said before
he left office that he would live out his days "hidden from the world"
in prayer and isolation. He has been photographed only four times since
"Indeed, he is far
from the world but he is present in the Church. His mission now, as he
once said, is to help the Church and his successor, Pope Francis,
through prayer. This is his first and most important task," Ganswein
cheered by conservatives, who have not taken to Francis' more open,
informal style, for trying to reaffirm traditional Catholic identity,
while liberals accused Benedict of turning back the clock on reforms and
hurting dialogue with Muslims, Jews and other Christians.
Benedict decided to stay in the Vatican, there was much speculation
that the decision could have a destabilising effect on the Church but
the fears did not materialise.
the very start there was good contact between them and this good
beginning developed and matured. They write to each other, they
telephone each other, they talk to each other, they extend invitations
to each other," Ganswein said.
said Benedict spends his time studying, reading, handling
correspondence, receiving visitors, playing the piano and praying while
taking walks in the Vatican gardens.
is well but certainly he is a person who carries the weight of his
years. So, he is a man who is physically old but his spirit is very
vivacious and very clear," Ganswein said.